Turning back the clock: Ai Miyazato leads ANA Inspiration

By Randall MellMarch 31, 2016, 11:29 pm

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Ai Miyazato buried a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th to close out her round Thursday at the ANA Inspiration and for a moment it felt like the clocks in the Coachella Valley rolled back.

With Miyazato’s name atop that giant wooden scoreboard at Mission Hills’ Country Club’s Dinah Shore Course, it felt like 2010 again.

With a 5-under-par 67, Miyazato walked off the course as the sole leader in the year’s first major championship.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Miyazato’s name was practically a fixture atop LPGA leaderboards.

She won five times in 2010 and rose to No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings.

Of course, the clocks didn’t roll back. Miyazato isn’t 24 years old anymore. It’s hard to believe, but she’s 30 now. She isn’t No. 1 anymore, either. In fact, before her third-place finish at the Kia Classic last week, she wasn’t among the top 100 in the world. She was No. 157.

Coming off the 18th green Thursday, walking the bridge over Poppy’s Pond, Miyazato showed us all something that hasn’t changed. Her smile. It still lights up a gallery the way it always did.

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With a round of five birdies and no bogeys, Miyazato was the early story at Mission Hills from the morning wave, but she wasn’t about to get ahead of herself thinking about how her still legion of fans would like to see her name atop the leaderboard at week’s end. She wasn’t thinking about winning her first LPGA title in almost four years.

“I'm definitely happy to see my name on the board,” Miyazato said. “But it's just the first day, and there’s a long way to go ... So, I just want to keep it going. I’m just going to say to myself, `Just be patient, just have fun.”’

From back at their Vision54 base at Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott cheered Miyazato’s patient approach. They’ve been working with Miyazato since she joined the LPGA as a Japanese sensation 10 years ago.

“Ai’s had such incredible patience for such a long time,” Nilsson said.

Miyazato has needed it working through challenges to her game in her long slide away from No. 1. There have been injuries and struggles to stay motivated, and there have been surprising putting woes, the loss of the magic that once made her the best putter in the women’s game.

What happened?

“It kind of became one thing after another,” Marriott said. “And as we’ve seen with so many No. 1s, where they’ve reached that goal, there’s the motivation you need to keep going. She had to re-evaluate. She had to figure that out.”

The putting’s coming back for Miyazato. Back at the Founders Cup in Phoenix two weeks ago, where Miyazato missed the cut, Marriott and Nilsson helped correct something. Marriott noticed the ball skipping off Miyazato’s putter face.

“Ai likes to use that forward press, so Lynn asked her to check the loft on her putter,” Nilsson did.

Miyazato did, and she added 2 degrees of loft to her putter, taking her up to 4 degrees to compensate for the forward press. Miyazato finished third at the Kia Classic after making the change, recording her first top-10 finish in an LPGA event since 2013, when she tied for sixth at the Lotte Championship.

Marriott and Nilsson are happy to hear Miyazato focusing on patience, because they believed at year’s start that her game and mindset were back in a good place. They didn’t want to see Miyazato get frustrated with her sluggish start and then her missed cut in Phoenix.

“We said there’s nothing wrong with your game,” Marriott said. “You’re on a plateau. You’re doing all the right things. Just hang in there.”

Even in her struggles, Miyazato remains a superstar in Japan, where she doesn’t play that often. When she does, though, she’s still the largest draw in women’s golf.

“It’s amazing how much she’s adored and looked up to,” Nilsson said.

As much as all Miyazato’s fans would love to see her ascend back to the top of the game, Miyazato says she doesn’t think about that as much as she does trying to win again. She has won nine LPGA titles but is still seeking her first major.

“I know how hard it is to be No. 1 in the world, because I've experienced it before,” Miyazato said. “That's actually not my goal anymore, because I’ve been there before. But still I want to win. That's my motivation, especially this week. It has been my dream since I was a kid. So that, I think, pushes me so much.”

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 21, 2018, 12:15 pm

Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th career major championship title, started the weekend six off the lead at Carnoustie. We're tracking him in Round 3 of The Open.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.